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IgorT 170~200mW 6X 405nm Review

Traveller

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Intro
IgorT hardly needs any introduction to most of you, nor does his work over the past 18 months here at LPF. However, not everyone has had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, particularly in the past four months where he has been on a, shall we say… sabbatical. This review will reveal what makes an IgorT laser such a desirable and requisite of any serious DIY-laser collection!



The man, the myth, the legend
Igor is certainly not one of LPF's "founding fathers", having (officially) joined LPF around Oct '07. In this short period however, he has managed to accomplish an unbelievable amount of work in the area of DIY, which can be easily seen from two of his key threads:

The man has logged no less than 3000 posts and although I haven't read each one, my guess is that 99% of said posts are a contribution to this forum and the science of DIY lasers. As a matter of fact, Igor is one of a handful of members that inspired me to get involved in the hobby as well as LPF and indeed, his compact, pristine and powerful 6X 405nm laser, the reason for this review, was my very first purchase at LPF!



The laser
From an external perspective, the laser has a very nice look to it, particularly for those of us that have held a typical Romisen CREE LED flashlight in our hands before. As a host, the Romisen has a clean look, feels solidly-made and is compact enough to easily fit in your pocket without being so small that it becomes a burden to use. Having said that, there's not much more to be said about IgorT's "version", which comes with the very common AixiZ acrylic lens (and adjustment nut).

It's what's on the inside that really makes his lasers stand apart! Igor has designed a combo heatsink - module for the 6X diode, version two, no less (not to mention that a version 3 has already been manufactured). That the module fits perfectly in the Romisen host is a given, permitting optimal heat transfer. What is less common - if not unheard of - is that IgorT guarantees"practically unlimited" duty-cycle! Note that most other DIY lasers will come with a standard duty-cycle recommendation of 60/60s (which is a copy-n-paste of the typical Laser pointer's duty cycle), despite having impressive heatsinks of their own… .

At LPF we have the great luck of having not one, but several "regulated current output driver" specialists; DrLava and his MicroFlexDrive as well as Rkcstr's Micro-Drive laser driver. But for technical reasons beyond the scope of this review (read: I am clueless :eek:), Igor chose to make his own* drivers for his 6X-based lasers. And when I say make his own, I mean from scratch (etching his own PCB, etc)…!

*Sidebar: I was since informed that the newest version of the FlexDrive (v4) would work with his heatsink-module assemblies. It is also worth mentioning that he has always used FlexDrives for his Red 658nm-diode lasers.

Igor then manages to place diode and driver into an encapsulated heatsink-module which is sealed, much like the LED flashlight's "pill" boxes! To the end-user, it looks like a flashlight; you just drop the 14500 3.7V rechargeable battery in, screw the clicky cap back on and you're in business.



The Heart of the Laser
What's [purposely] missing from the above section is the heart of the laser, the 405nm laser diode (LD). Although this is my third review of a DIY laser here at LPF, I've never bothered to write about the LD, but of course, this is no typical LD, this is an individually-selected LD, thoroughly tested by Igor, using the appropriate equipment. Among other tests, Igor tracks the diode's efficiency over a range of input current and determines if the diode is suitable for use in one of his lasers. If said diode doesn't pass his test(s), it is relegated to being a torture candidate and it's purchase price is relegated to Igor's personal overhead.

It would be unfair to suggest that the other builders at LPF do not test their diodes, but I think it is safe to say that few go through Igor's complete testing process and are willing to absorb the associated overhead like Igor does.

This may also be the right place to mention that Igor does not hide the fact that power is inversely proportional to longevity. As such, Igor offers his partners a range (usually from 170mW - 200mW) but expects the "buyer beware" if they opt for something in the upper limits. This option will also influence Igor's standard LD guarantee policy (see below). I personally decided to play it safe, hoping for longevity and requested mine be set to 180mW.



The Packaging
No, I'm not going to bore you with tales of bubble-wrap and manila envelopes. Packaging, as defined by Igor, is the process of the final testing of the module, the host conductivity (Romisen's are infamous for poor connections between host parts) and the cleaning and assembling of lens / LD window. Igor also insures that the final power output setting is close to what was requested. In my case, 180mW was suggested, 189mW was the final measurement.

If I were Freud, I'd guess that Igor's slightly anal, which - believe it or not - is a good thing, when it comes to building lasers ;) As definite proof of my hypothesis, Igor uses a weak, unfocused 405nm laser to "highlight" dust on the AixiZ lens assembly, LD window, as well as the spring in between. Igor also assures that the LD window is clean and free of any LD-production "film", etc. This kind of dirt may not effect the LD and it's primary job in an optical drive, but it sure looks nasty when projected on a nearby wall… .

Normally*, one can also expect a few more "highlights" when buying one of Igor's lasers, including a printed copy of the LD performance graph. As only collectors and enthusiasts will opt to purchase a DIY laser of this caliber, a performance graph adds to the ownership value of the laser. The other "must mention" goody that one normally* would receive with an IgorT laser is an official Laser Warning label, matching the laser's wavelength and output power. Said label is not directly attached but hidden in the host's battery compartment for obvious shipping reasons… .

*Unfortunately for most of Igor's recent buyers, these items were not included due to time constraints and availability. However said items were always provided in the past and it can be assumed that they will be provided in future deals. See below for the "why"… .

Last but certainly not least, the laser is delivered in the Romisen host's original (cardboard) box, labeled with both the buyer's name and the final output power measurement of the laser. This gives you the feeling that you have indeed received the laser you ordered - as per agreed-to specs.



How much did you say?
I have purposely arranged this review so that you read the above before I mention what will clearly appear to be a hefty price tag of ~$266, including shipping world-wide. Yes, $266 is a whole lot of bling. In comparison, I got a matching set of Dorcy Jrs, one <200mW 405nm BR and one <300mW 658nm for $300 plus shipping. But perhaps that price tag may sound a bit more reasonable on this side of the review, now that we have given some thought to the work Igor puts into his builds, not to mention the R&D and overhead (torture-testing :gun: diode wannabes, etc.).

What I didn't mention above but certainly counts as a big plus is that Igor guarantees, in writing (assuming you can find the one or two posts out of the 1585 posts in his 6X thread…) his individually-selected diodes for three months and will replace the diode free of charge (assuming proper use of said laser by the owner). After that, Igor will replace the diode at cost (plus shipping, etc.) for an undetermined amount of time. Perhaps this amounts to a year, but knowing Igor, there's no time limit, as long as he's still doing his thang :cool:.



Customer Relations
Let me just start by saying that turning a profit is the last thing on Igor's mind and he doesn't even build lasers for money (not that anyone should be criticized for doing so, particularly considering today's economical crisis). Igor is a scientist, a researcher, a frontiers man, maybe even a genius, by our humble standards. But a "Customer Relationship Manager" he is not.

As a matter of fact on a good day, Igor is hard to communicate with, his mind, hard at work on a million different topics, wandering all over the place. You ask him if it's "red or blue" and you get back a long-winded answer about the meaning of the Universe... :thinking: But in the end, you still don't know if it's red or blue… :rolleyes: Not to mention, he always ends his two-page essays with "I don't have time to answer your question now but I promise to get back to you"… . Go figure.

Now that is Igor on a good day and Igor hasn't had a good day in quite a while; Which means his LPF partners, be it fellow researchers or laser buyers or enthusiastic Lens GB ("Group Buy") participants, have also not had good days (lately), when it comes to dealing with him. There are reasons why Igor hasn't had a good day in a while, but I do not want to discuss this in the body of my review. Suffice it to say that said reason(s) are well documented elsewhere… .

We all have our bad days, we all at one point or another, have problems that are way more important than this humble hobby we all share. Because of this, I have chosen to remain unbiased within the framework of this review, of what has transpired over this past "dark period". However, I have no problem what so ever in criticizing Igor's general communications skills, which leave much to be desired, to say the least. Igor is a brilliant (if not mad) scientist and as such, he has little interest in polishing his communications skills on our behalf. No one's perfect, and Igor is certainly no exception. But if one must choose, what's more important; getting a brilliant piece of engineering / collector's DIY laser from a "I hate red tape" DIYer or getting a lesser-grade product, albeit with a little more courtesy and care… you decide.



Conclusion
It is an honor to be able to showcase an original IgorT 6X along side my other revered lasers. It is also an honor to engage oneself in a conversation over lens characteristics with Igor. There is no question that Igor and his lasers are an integral part of our community and that he's made LPF all the more an exciting place to learn and exchange ideas. :bowdown:Igor's "mad scientist" side however sometimes adversely affects basic p2p relations, having cast a slight shadow over what would have been the ultimate DIY Laser-buying experience...



Imagery
Below you will find a few pics of the IgorT 6X (silver-blue Romisen) along with a few other of my prized DIY lasers:
Daguin DJR 258mW 658nm
Daguin DJR 182mW 405nm+ JayRob 405-G-1 Lens (236mW)
LikeitBright Romisen 277mW red

Power Output measurement was done with my Ken-O-Meter Thermal LPM. Please note that my measurement of 199mW (below) is within 5% of Igor's own measurements of 189mW.

FIY, the photos were made with a Canon 50D and Canon EF-S 60mm Macro and Sigma 24-70 HSM lenses. The "beam" images below were enhanced with a smoke (by blowing out a candle), taken at f/8 for approx 8s.

 

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mgc8

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Great review :beer:!
I like how you very courteously mentioned the less-than-stellar buying experience while still presenting IgorT in a good light as he deserves!

As for the details, spot on!

Regards,
Mihnea
 

Traveller

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Great review ... As for the details...
Hi & thx, Mihnea :)

"The devil is in the details" and that's the reason it's sooo looong :)rolleyes:), because there's a lot of detail behind this unassuming little laser & it's creator... ;)
 

Traveller

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Wow, I wish I would have bought one back when he was selling.
He is STILL SELLING!!! He has a lot of 6X diodes and a good source for more, if necessary... *cough*_len_*cough*.

As a matter of fact, things should soon reach normal operating speed ;) So if you're up for it, send him an order request via PM!!!

Just please keep in mind that he's still a busy fella so yes, it will take a while for him to get back to you, so give him a up to a week to reply.
 
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Traveller

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While testing a few "hi-power" lenses, I was ah, forced to remove* the acrylic from my IgorT 6X... so while I was at it, I snapped a few shots, alongside my Daguin Dorcy Jr 6X ;)

*Just don't tell him, 'cause he'll kill me... :scared::eg:

p.s. as usual, you can view the original-sized version over in my Flickr site (see sig.)
 

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IgorT

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Intro
IgorT hardly needs any introduction to most of you, nor does his work over the past 18 months here at LPF. However, not everyone has had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, particularly in the past four months where he has been on a, shall we say… sabbatical. This review will reveal what makes an IgorT laser such a desirable and requisite of any serious DIY-laser collection!

Traveller, i could not possibly wish for a more detailed and honest review than what you wrote!


I just wish we would have me before things went wrong for me.... :(


I used to write my buyers 70-120 emails by the time they got their lasers, they would know all there is to know about the laser, when it got there!


I was hoping to do the same for everyone on my 6x list, especially with great diodes like that!


But once i finally got 6x's, things were already wrong.

I lost money on 4x's, and time on my accountant by then. :cryyy:



Maybe we could make up for it now, when i make you an 8x?
 

IgorT

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*Just don't tell him, 'cause he'll kill me... :scared::eg:

I won't kill you, i'll just be sad you don't have my lens to test as well... :banghead:


Maybe we need a mini Test-Buy where i mount them in plastic lens nuts by hand?


You in Traveller?
 
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Traveller

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Maybe we need a mini Test-Buy where i mount them in plastic lens nuts by hand? You in Traveller?
Am I in? Does a bear sh... - use his laser - in the woods?

Hehe, you know I want one of your lenses, no question about that! But why the plastic lens nut? I thought Jay was already hard at work making / modding a steel lens-nut... :thinking:
 

daguin

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Am I in? Does a bear sh... - use his laser - in the woods?
Hehe, you know I want one of your lenses, no question about that! But why the plastic lens nut? I thought Jay was already hard at work making / modding a steel lens-nut... :thinking:
I THINK that they have this worked out

Peace,
dave
 

jayrob

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From what I understand, the brass nut that I will fit one of the lenses in, will be so that Igor can use the measurements/design to get a bunch of lens nuts made for the future GB.

But his 'test buy', will be lenses mounted in a plastic nut by Igor himself. He said that he may need me to machine some AixiZ focus rings 'thinner' for those...
 

IgorT

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Am I in? Does a bear sh... - use his laser - in the woods?

Hehe, you know I want one of your lenses, no question about that! But why the plastic lens nut? I thought Jay was already hard at work making / modding a steel lens-nut... :thinking:

1. Bears do sh.. - use their lasers in the woods, i've seen one! :yh:
Oh wait, that was me - just lazoring, not sh...! :yabbem:

2. There is nothing wrong with plastic lens nuts, i've been using one for a year now! It's a 7mm lens so it fits into one perfectly!


Remember the Custom Lens Feeler thread? There i actually thought i could mount ALL lenses in plastic lens nuts and even ordered 300 of them once for $150!!! Those mistakes ended up costing me upwards of $1000! :yabbem:



I was crazy back then to believe i could mount 250+ lenses by hand FOR FREE!


We need custom made CNC lens nuts if we want to wash lenses in acetone... Plastic is only good for ethanol but normal people don't have ACS grade acetone anyway...

If we can get 50+ orders immediatelly i can get them CNC made for the FIRST "mini" Test Buy for friends (and their friends - hopefully)... :evil:


But i'll have the "medium" Custom Lens mounted by Jayrob before the mini-Test Buy, and i can have lens nuts custom made a week after i get it back!
 
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Traveller

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was it 300 for both...
Ah... I think you're asking this question in the wrong thread.

This is a review of ONE laser, the one & only IgorT 6X Romisen and that one laser goes (went) for $260. Check Igor's main thread (link above in my review) for his current offers, incl. his new 8X line... :bowdown:
 




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